Many of us love ordering a lazy takeaway after a long week at work – but the weekly treat can easily see us consuming hidden calories in their hundreds and sometimes thousands.
If you're hoping to lead a healthier lifestyle without giving up your favourite meal, we have found some small adjustments that you can make to your Friday night takeaway.
Fast foods like pizzas, burgers and curries with all the extras aren’t exactly known for their health benefits and they can often be laden with excess salt and saturated fat.
Until widespread change comes into place, there are ways you can enjoy a less calorie-laden takeaway – and it doesn’t mean crunching on salad or missing out entirely.
Here, we asked nutritionists to share some easy tips for small adjustments to your fast foods.
1. Mix and match
If you’re ordering a takeaway and you have a perfectly good kitchen nearby, you don’t need to buy a whole meal.
"If you’re ordering a curry, you can serve it with some cooked vegetables at home rather than ordering fried rice," says nutritionist Jenna Hope, who adds that this will save you and your family both calories and money in the long-run.
"Equally if you’re opting for pizza, add your own vegetable-based toppings rather than opting for extra cheese or the restaurant’s added extras," says Hope. "I’d suggest avoiding stuffed crusts too and opt for the thinner crusts to save on unnecessary calories."
2. Avoid the added ‘extras’
All those starters and side-dishes can add a lot of extra saturated fat and calories into your meal, and they might not even be your favourite bits. Unless you really look forward to that side plate of chips, why not give it a miss?
"Often, there’s no need to go for the dough balls, naan bread or extra dips when you’re ordering a takeaway," says Hope. "Usually, you’ll find that a main meal is more than enough to fill you up without leaving you with that uncomfortable bloated feeling."
3. Beware the meal deal
Meal deals can often trick us into buying more food than we need as we’re convinced we’re getting a good deal. However, if you’re trying to watch your weight, ordering dessert might set you back a step.
"If you’re ordering a takeaway at home there’s no need to buy the brownies which are advertised along with the main," stresses Hope. "Getting into the habit of buying dessert with every takeaway can quickly add up on the calories."
Alternatively, if you have a sweet tooth that just won't quit, why not opt for a healthier main meal and indulge in dessert?
4. Drink water instead of sugary beverages
No surprises here. "Fizzy drinks are packed with empty calories," says Charlotte Bierens, head of nutrition at complete meal brand Jimmy Joy. Plus, they’re high in sugars which can wreak havoc on your teeth and skin, and can increase your risk of developing diabetes in the long-run.
"Instead, try to get into the habit of drinking a glass of water during a takeaway meal," suggests Bierens.
5. Ask for dressings and sauces to be served on the side
When it comes to losing weight or simply maintaining, it's usually the little things that make a big difference. The simplest thing like adding mayonnaise or kebab shop chilli sauce can hike up your calorie count, and you may well have an alternative sitting in your fridge.
"Most of the time you’ll be able to add your own dressing or sauce for far fewer calories," says Hope, who recommends buying low-fat alternatives from the supermarket and keeping them in the fridge.
If your local takeaway has a secret sauce that you simply can’t live without, then ask them to serve it in a container on the side. "You’re more in control of the portion size when you add the sauces yourself," says Hope.
If you have any concerns about your weight or are planning to start a new diet plan, you should speak with your GP.